Michigan-Made Tortilla Chip Legacy – El Matador

One of the coolest things about helping people discover new Michigan made products is featuring companies that have been making it in Michigan for decades, right under our mouths.  El Matador is one such company, with it’s roots going back to 1976, these tortilla have been around the block.  Sometimes Mitten Crate includes south of the border ‘Michigan-Made’ favorites, we just make sure they are delicious as well.  We talked to Mike McClellan at El Matador to get the lowdown on this tortilla legacy.

Tell us a little about yourself and the company you own/run: 

My name is Mike McClellan and I have thirty years of experience in the foodservice industry.  I have been with El Matador Enterprises as the Director of Operations since August 2012.  Prior to my arrival at El Matador, the majority of my career was with Sara Lee Foods (eighteen years).  At El Matador, we produce over twenty tortilla chip SKU’s with bag sizes ranging from a 5 oz. to a 2 lb. package.  We also produce finished product in both a 3 lb. and 10 lb. bulk pack which we supply many of the finer Grand Rapids area restaurants and entertainment centers.  We have fifty team members with two shifts of daily production and a 3rd shift sanitation crew.

What is your location and when did you start/how long has the company been in business:

We are located at 45 Franklin Street SW  Grand Rapids, MI  49507.  El Matador was founded by Miguel and Isabel Navaro in 1976, and was purchased by Garden Fresh Gourmet on December 13, 2007.

What makes your products special/unique:

We produce our product the “old fashion way” by cooking corn (white, yellow, and blue) and grinding into a masa.  Traditional tortilla chip preparation involves cooking the corn in 1000 lb. tubs, then steeping / soaking for eight hours.  The corn then goes through a draining / washing process and is ground using two matched carved stones, one stationary and the other rotating at about 500 to 700 rpm.  These stones are composed of lava / volcanic material which turn the corn into masa.

What’s the favorite part about your job:

We refer to our company as “The El Matador Family”.  We have fifty team members who enjoy spending time together both at work and participating in off-site activities.  Our team has participated in volunteer activities, baseball, bowling, and golf outings.  We are also currently planning a company summer picnic for all employees to enjoy with their families.

Where can we buy more of your products:

Our product is available in Meijer, Kroger, Costco, Spartan Stores, and other outlets throughout the country.  We also co-pack product which is sold in Canada.

 Whats the best way to enjoy/eat/prepare/utilize your product:

Our tortilla chips are best served with Garden Fresh Gourmet salsa and humus. Our product is very popular during holiday’s with our sales peak occurring for Super Bowl Sunday.

If you liked your El Matador chips give us a shout on our Facebook to spread the good word.